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The Rathlin Island massacre

By the Quene

Right trustie and right welbeloved Cosen wee greet you well wee fynde too our great and singuler contentment by your Letters bering date the last of Iulye by the which you advertyse us of the taking of the Ilande of the Raughelins (the common receipt and harborowe of suche Scottes as doe infecte that ouer Realme of Yrelande, that your proceding against Sarleboy hathe taken that happy successe throughe your warlick and poletyke direccions, as wee haue alwaies looked for who through the experience and tryall that wee have lately heald of your service in the which you have spared no trayvayll shrynked for no perill not left unforseene any advauntage that might further the same doe promes unto ourselfe as great good successe of that you take in hande in martiall affaires as wee can justelie looke for in a matter of that nature or any other subjectes handes of ours whereof the yssue is so Casuall and uncertayne victory resting onlie in the handes of God yf you knew what comforte wee take to have a subjecte of your qualitie so assured unto us by bonde of Loyaltie whereof wee have had so good triall and tyed to us so neere in affeynitie a knott of no smale assuraunce to grow in this tyme when the most parte of menn doe geve them selfes over as yt weare a pray to delcacye to be so serviceable in a Cawling whereof (though God plesently blesse us with peace) wee may in tyme to come take so great proffitt you sholde then acknowledge your care traivaille and hasarde bestowed in the service of a Prynce that makethe as thankefull acceptance of the same as any other prynce that lyveth which you shall fynde our deedes shall most effectually confyrme when tyme shall serve wee may not forget also to requyer you in our name to geve the young gentleman John norryce who was thexecucioner of your well devised enterpryce to understande that uppon your good report made of his well guyding of the same and his other service donne in that ower Realme under you wee will not be unmyndefull thereof And wheareas you desier to knowe our opynion when wee woolde have donne touching the keeping of the Raughlines you shall therin fully receave ouer resolucion at our right trustye and welbeloved Counsellor Sir henry Sydneis handes who meaneth within Eight dayes after the date our Letters to be at the Sea syde theare to embarque whom after his arryvall and accept[ance?] of the charg of gouernement there wee have appointed ymediatly to repayre into the Northe theare to conferr with you for the staye of that province In the meane tyme wee think yt Very convenient according to your own opynion and allowaunce that ther be contynued a warde of thirtye Soldiers in the forte lately taken in the saied ylande And yf you shall see any necessary contynuaunce of thentertayning of the ffrygattes untill you shall conferr with our saied servaunt and Counceillor Henry Sydney wee canne be content to allow thereof Geven Under our signet at Dudely Castell the xijth of August the xvijth yeare of our reigne

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The Rathlin Island massacre

Author
Elizabeth I
Date
12 August 1575
Medium
Manuscript

In July 1575 the Earl of Essex placed John Norris in command of an attack upon Sorley Boy MacDonnell's stronghold of Rathlin Island, off the coast of Country Antrim, Ireland. Norris was joined in his mission by ships under the command of Francis Drake. Norris and Drake set sail from Carrickfergus on 20 July and landed at Rathlin Island on 22 July driving Sorley Boy's men into the island castle. Artillery was landed from the English ships and Norris made two attempts to storm the castle on 25 July. The castle constable sought terms the following day. Norris offered to guarantee only the lives of the constable and his family. Upon the surrender of the castle Norris's men promptly massacred the entire two hundred man garrison. Norris then ordered a search of the island which resulted in the further massacre of three to four hundred of its inhabitants (CSP Ireland 1571-5, pp. 881-2). In this letter of congratulation, Elizabeth I instructs the Earl of Essex "in our name to geve the young gentleman John Norryce who was thexecucioner of your well devised enterpryce to understande that uppon your good report made of his well guyding of the same and his other service donne in that ower Realme under you wee will not be unmyndefull thereof."

Transcript

By the Quene

Right trustie and right welbeloved Cosen wee greet you well wee fynde too our great and singuler contentment by your Letters bering date the last of Iulye by the which you advertyse us of the taking of the Ilande of the Raughelins (the common receipt and harborowe of suche Scottes as doe infecte that ouer Realme of Yrelande, that your proceding against Sarleboy hathe taken that happy successe throughe your warlick and poletyke direccions, as wee haue alwaies looked for who through the experience and tryall that wee have lately heald of your service in the which you have spared no trayvayll shrynked for no perill not left unforseene any advauntage that might further the same doe promes unto ourselfe as great good successe of that you take in hande in martiall affaires as wee can justelie looke for in a matter of that nature or any other subjectes handes of ours whereof the yssue is so Casuall and uncertayne victory resting onlie in the handes of God yf you knew what comforte wee take to have a subjecte of your qualitie so assured unto us by bonde of Loyaltie whereof wee have had so good triall and tyed to us so neere in affeynitie a knott of no smale assuraunce to grow in this tyme when the most parte of menn doe geve them selfes over as yt weare a pray to delcacye to be so serviceable in a Cawling whereof (though God plesently blesse us with peace) wee may in tyme to come take so great proffitt you sholde then acknowledge your care traivaille and hasarde bestowed in the service of a Prynce that makethe as thankefull acceptance of the same as any other prynce that lyveth which you shall fynde our deedes shall most effectually confyrme when tyme shall serve wee may not forget also to requyer you in our name to geve the young gentleman John norryce who was thexecucioner of your well devised enterpryce to understande that uppon your good report made of his well guyding of the same and his other service donne in that ower Realme under you wee will not be unmyndefull thereof And wheareas you desier to knowe our opynion when wee woolde have donne touching the keeping of the Raughlines you shall therin fully receave ouer resolucion at our right trustye and welbeloved Counsellor Sir henry Sydneis handes who meaneth within Eight dayes after the date our Letters to be at the Sea syde theare to embarque whom after his arryvall and accept[ance?] of the charg of gouernement there wee have appointed ymediatly to repayre into the Northe theare to conferr with you for the staye of that province In the meane tyme wee think yt Very convenient according to your own opynion and allowaunce that ther be contynued a warde of thirtye Soldiers in the forte lately taken in the saied ylande And yf you shall see any necessary contynuaunce of thentertayning of the ffrygattes untill you shall conferr with our saied servaunt and Counceillor Henry Sydney wee canne be content to allow thereof Geven Under our signet at Dudely Castell the xijth of August the xvijth yeare of our reigne

Your comments: Add to the archive

Bipartisanship often creeps into historical reports of massacres. One side records the massacre without recourse to precursors of the atrocity which are often massacres conducted by "our" side. History doesn't start on the day your side suffers a massacre. History records that massacre sadly begets massacre.

David Booth 19/11/2016

I think that's what you call a run-on sentence, but seriously, those who would like to call Elizabeth I 'The Great' might have a rethink if they see how she appreciated the massacre of women and children on Rathlin Island.

Chris Backon 13/04/2016

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